Chapter

Over the Top

Kathleen Riley

in The Astaires

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199738410
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932955 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738410.003.0002
Over the Top

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This chapter develops the family history and gives an account of the origins of Frederic Austerlitz and Johanna Geilus, their marriage, the birth of their children Adele and Fred, and the family’s early years in Omaha, Nebraska. Adele first, and then Fred were enrolled in the local dance school. Their teacher, Willard Chambers, recognized a special talent in the children, especially Adele, and encouraged their parents to move the children to New York where they were enrolled in the Alviene Master School of the Theatre and Academy of Cultural Arts. Their exposure to grown-up theatre, their professional debut, the first vaudeville tour (which was followed by a two-year break before re-entry to the vaudeville circuit), and the ups and downs of trying to make it in show business are related. The chapter ends with an account of the failure of their New York debut, a skit entitled ‘A Rainy Saturday’ for which their mother paid their new instructor, Ned Wayburn, the princely sum of $1000.

Keywords: astaire; fred; adele; austerlitz; omaha; nebraska; ann; alviene; vaudeville; ned Wayburn

Chapter.  7700 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Dance

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